Posted by : sanne

In each ESF-newsletter we will interview either a passionate individual or an employee of an organisation that is connected to ESF. In this first newsletter we would like to introduce Johan and Marja Lansbergen.

The couple has been breeding tortoises for years and thus have been making an important contribution to the various breeding programmes.

Johan and Marja were introduced to tortoises by their son in 1984, and have been avid fans ever since.

Because their son turned out to be allergic for dust, and just about everything feathery and hairy, the choice for a reptile or amphibious animal was easily made.

Their first tortoise was a Bell's hinge-back tortoise (Kinixys belliana).

The animal was purchased in a pet store in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, but soon it turned out that the animal was not healthy.

In order to find out what was wrong with the animal, they turned to the Blijdorp Rotterdam Zoo for advice. There they met a young zookeeper. This zookeeper has, in the mean time, grown up a bit, is still employed by the Rotterdam Zoo and moved on to become chairman of the ESF as well.

The zookeeper took the tortoise in but unfortunately the animal had been too infected with parasites and died. The friendly zookeeper saw the sadness in the eyes of the little boy and decided to offer some animals for him to take care off.

Initially the family took care of Red-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis carbonaria).
Soon, more Bell's hinge-back tortoises (Kinixys belliana) found their way into the Lansbergen's home. Now, after 28 years, these tortoises are still in their care and have produced a number of offspring.

To indicate their passion for the tortoises, they even took them into consideration when moving to a new house. It had to be a house facing the south-east, ideal for tortoises.

Their sons growing up and moving out was not a sad moment. It meant more space for turtles!

In recent years the couple has been taking care of the following different species:
- Bell's hinge-back tortoise (Kinixys belliana)
- Red-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis carbonaria)
- Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri)
- Russian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii)
- Pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri)
- Spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca, haplotype II)
- Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni).

At the moment they are still looking after all these varieties except Russian tortoises.

The Russian tortoise is also the only species they never bred. With all their species that have an ESF-pedigree, they participate in the pedigree. Johan's pride and joy lies with the breeding of Spur-thighed tortoises. Nevertheless, all offspring of all different species are more than welcome at the Lansbergens. Asked which other species Johan would like to breed, he replies that for now it is sufficient. Johan prefers to continue to breed the species that he and his wife have at the moment.

We would like to thank Marja and Johan for the interview and their continued efforts for the ESF!